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Bayesian evaluation for the likelihood of Christ's resurrection (Part 21)

How about we look at some ancient gods? Jesus is often compared to the gods in other religions, but can any of them actually serve in our comparison of historical evidence for a resurrection?

Mithra, for instance, is a god in the Persian religion of Zoroastrianism, who then inspired a Roman mystery religion. He often appears on lists of gods that Jesus was supposed to have been copied from. But... um... it seems that he was never actually said to have been a human, or any kind of a historical figure, in either the Persian or the Roman variants. He doesn't even die, let alone rise from the dead, even in his mythologies. Furthermore, any specific details or even general plot points is notoriously difficult to extract from any Mithra mythology. The Roman version of Mithra was worshiped in a mystery religion, and none of their written narratives or theology survive - we only have some iconography to glean what we can of this Mithra. In the Persian version, Mithra is mentioned in some hymns (Yashts), which are again very short on details, mythology, or narrative. In all cases, he is always presented as a mythic entity, and the scant stories about him are always framed in that context.

So, on his comparison with Jesus, Mithra fails on this crucial point of historical existence. For our purposes, this also means that we can safely say that there is no evidence for Mithra's resurrection. Indeed such a claim is never even made, or even dreamt of - someone would first have to claim that Mithra was a historical figure.

Horus, an ancient Egyptian god, along with his father Osiris, are some more gods who are sometimes compared to Jesus - and they, too, fail the "historical existence" test. As with Mithra, all of the stories concerning these gods take place on a purely mythological level, and there are no claims to them having been a real, historical figure. For our purposes, it's clear that their story presents no evidence for a historical resurrection. But at least Osiris has a mythological story where he comes back from the dead. Of course, it's not even clear that there was ever a group of people who might have claimed to have been historical witnesses to this - all ancient sources (Pyramid Texts,  Palermo Stone, etc.) which mention this story always present it something that took place a long time ago, in an mythic age.

So, in assigning a level of evidence to this, we'll be extremely generous and again count this as an order of magnitude less than the evidence of the 500 witnesses in 1 Corinthians 15. Recall that this comes to 1/6 * 1/10 = 1/60th of the evidence that we have for Christ's resurrection.

Dionysus is another god, this time from the Greek pantheon, who is superficially compared to Jesus but fails the "historical existence" test. Yes, there is a mythological story where he is killed as an infant then re-incubated in Zeus's thigh - but none of the sources that mention this mythology pretends to be history. Dionysus's situation with regards to his "resurrection" is therefore similar to that of Osiris - there is virtually no historical evidence for his "resurrection".

As with Osiris, we'll again be extremely generous and rate him as having 1/60th of the evidence for Christ's resurrection.

We will discuss Krishna in the next post.

You may next want to read:
The intellect trap
Isn't the universe too big to have humans as its purpose?
Another post, from the table of contents

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